LIT & CRIT : FINANCE : CULTURE
JAMES ALTUCHER
 
PULLING BACK THE COVER 
ON HIS WRITING TECHNIQUES
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So here is Altucher's Formula exposed:

1. Begin with a shocking truth, often counter-intuitive, that may right off the bat raise some reader's hackles even while intriguing them. Be beguiling. In the case of this essay, it was literally the words: "Shocking truth" with which I began this piece. Also, promise to "expose" something. People always want in on secret knowledge. Thus, reader hooked. You've got credibility; you've got secrets you're willing to spill. They want access to the Taco Bell secret society.

2. Admit to a personal failure with great honesty. That's me being homeless, a sweaty idiot on the bus, etc.

3. Play on wealth envy. The guru who is not rich surely doesn’t deserve to be a guru, right? Why would anyone read any guru's writings? Because they want to get answers from the guru which will solve all of their problems, natch.  

Of course, the number one answer they want is: "HOW CAN I GET AS RICH AS THAT GURU?" Perhaps it can be done by buying the guru's books, which must hold the answer? So, what happens is that you find out many gurus are like those posters stapled to telephone poles that say, "Secret way to make money - find out how by sending me $10!!!" When you do they send you a letter saying "Put up posters all around town charging people $10 for a secret way to make money."

Thus, when reading Altucher's work (which is at least insightful even when part of his technique is to honestly pull back the covers halfway on the process as an "insider's secret"), note that almost all of his essays at one point or another refer to super-rich people he knows and the exclusive access he has to them. 

Now, if you want to know the secret to wealth, that's the real secret: get to know wealthy people. Connections, people, will do ten times as much for you as hard work or yoga, I promise you.

 

4. Mention Famous People. Then write about it. Your relationship with the famous and wealthy always intrigues the outsiders. Doing good work is its own reward and may make you connections which gets you good PR, but without connections nor PR no one will ever know or care that you are doing good work, in my experience. Money begets money, power begets power. It's based on envy and wealth genuflection.

Sometimes James Altucher is even so good as to tease you with the information and access he has, but then he withholds it. (Count how many times in his essays he notes he could tell you the name of the famous person but he won't). He even sometimes says "email me and I'll tell you," so that at least he has that "call to action" right there that gets you to engage with his content and give him your email address for later marketing purposes. 

 

Every guru is running a business, of course, because --again-- if they weren't making money and running a business then their own advice must be flawed, so we don't begrudge him that his articles are always advertisements in a way for his own products.

My example is this: In my intro you'll see I mentioned the "high powered lawyer in China" I'm friends with and the "famous punk rocker" who was way ahead of everyone;  email me if you want me to give you their names!

Anyway, James is great in that he's not a snake-oil salesman per-se, he really is trying to find the keys for a happy life and share them with people, I believe. The other day he published a whole slew of the "thank you" letters and "I'm grateful and humble for X" letters he often gets, and he really is helping a lot of people. At the same time, he is doing it as an expert businessman.

 

We don' mind that, but we don't necessarily respond to the lure of the wealth envy he employs as part of his technique. Nor can we stand the high pressure sales techniques and the pushing of shitty penny stocks as a path to wealth. It's ripoff artist time at Choose Yourself and also our Newsletter Package Financial. 

5.  Offer a Personal Epiphany. Typically, offer a personal admission #2 and an epiphany from that failure which confirms the shocking truth. In the case of the above essay, I note that I "made it" despite the imagined satanic forces trying to stop me; I didn't let any hurdle prevent me from getting there, even homelessness. Git er done, sez the guru!

6. Offer An Insider's Secret. An insider's-only technique is then gleaned which the exclusive, famous and wealthy know. In my case, it's that connections are worth more than all the guru books in the world. Start networking with wealthy people if you really want wealth. My best example of this is where I actually tell you I've spoken to James himself!  See, I'm connected! I must be good. 

(Truth is, he talked to me only to tell me he didn’t appreciate my lazy criticism of one of his guests; he's not inviting me to go with him to Bohemian Grove this season. But what does that matter? The algos that scan the pages to see who's who don't recognize good from bad mentions, so play the game, play to win.)

7. Assuage the Audience's Guilt. Offer some radical shocking truth which assuages your audience's guilt for not being rich already, like, "you don't need a house anyway." Tell your audience: "Free yourself from all practical responsibility, normal life is a hamster wheel and we'll all wind up dead, so go for it!" This appeals to the core audience who want the guru to solve their problems and offer a path to easy wealth without all the normal amount of work and luck it typically takes.

Assuage their shame of poverty with the idea that success is a chimera and we should just enjoy life today. Stop and smell the roses. (As long as you're already rich you'll have plenty of time to do it!)  Most often, in his blog James reminds you that life sucks for hamsters like you and he, but since we're all hamsters anyway just rise above your lousy little hamster life by embracing it. Let it be and do your thing, we're all on the same wheel, no one is better than you, no one is getting anywhere either, we're all just spinning, spinning. Find fulfillment as you can, and keep on keeping on. Feel better now that no one is really a winner?

Sure, it's solid advice, no? I guess at the end of the day that's about all most gurus ever tell you: be yourself and enjoy it. It's really up to you to teach yourself how to apply it to your everyday actions, as I said. Maybe start by buying a day-planner? Actually I do think James offers more practical advice than many others: exercise, get good sleep, cut out the noise and trash, stay healthy, be friendly, etc. He's got a whole bunch of practical advice, actually, that does make sense on a day to day basis. But will it make you wealthy?  Probably not.

But will any guru admit that they can't and don't really have much to sell other than a mirror and a good ol' thumbs up? Don't call them on it. All of the above is so assured an approach to the game that it can blind a follower-type into viewing the guru as someone unquestionable in their authority. By definition, one doesn't often look at a guru critically, do they? You wouldn't want to make them mad and have them deny you the secret to unlimited wealth in a fit of pique. One must treat a guru with the proper respect, come with the proper attitude of submission and deference. They may take umbrage at your rude demands of immediate success and unlimited wealth unless you present yourself as a supplicant, head bowed. If they reject you, you'll be up shit creek when it dries up and you have to drag your canoe through the mud back to town; no one wants that. Sure, no point in being disrespectful, but gurus most of the time have earned their dignity and will protect it as the commodity fueling their entire shtick. No one likes a guru that still has toilet paper stuck to their shoes. 

 

What do we want? The secret to how they made money, sooo much money that they have the luxury of telling you that you money is not the answer. Selling that idea to you, for money. The money they don't really care about as their company ramps up its sales pitches to you.

Yet there is no secret to sell, other than the secret is that there is no secret. (Has the Kung Fu Panda Jade Scroll been reading Tony Robbins too?Even if their past money-making has made them an experienced authority on the practical challenges of day to day success, the majority of a guru's pitch (if they're smart) is that they can't really help you, you need to help yourself. Then they keep your money and wish you godspeed.

( I always say, you have two weeks to move on any good idea and bring it to market before someone else does. Damned if I am not writing this right now and in my research just noticed that Robbins' new biopic is called "I Am Not Your Guru," for fuck's sake. Aww, man, and I've been working on this guru hit piece since 2014!! Now it's been rendered irrelevant by the sly renunciations of the gurus themselves! "I'm not a savior," quote Brian in Life of Brian by Monty Python. "That's exactly what a savior would say!" replies the crowd. So it's too clever by more than half when Robbins claims he's not the guru he obviously presents himself as. Sure, have a little pity on the guru who is just a victim of their own success in offering unsolicited life advice to strangers in commercial settings.They're just misunderstood. So in the end, folks, remember that your guru is only human.)

Obviously, the point is: don’t expect anyone else to solve your motivation problems. There is no simple cure, though luck and making connections by being a good person might help.

 

Even if they are offering the moon, the guru is not really ever to blame if you fail to reach the stratosphere. After all, There is probably nothing really wrong with their advice. From their perspective they are simply offering reasonably good life lessons and practical methods which have worked for them (wrapped up in an ultra-sophisticated marketing plan). So it is what it is. Why someone needs to pay a couple of grand to discover this is beyond me, but put up a circus tent some clowns are going to come.

What's wrong with taking a walk, getting out of that claustrophobic headspace, unwinding tension, trying to be ok with death, visiting a garden, letting go of your emotional response to failure and pressure, loving your family as well as you can despite your flaws? Nothing. All of that guru advice is surely rewarding if you follow it, no doubt. Certainly it is practical if not wholly obvious. 

 

It's just that all the gurus and even all the unGurus offer it at a price, and I'm not sure it's worth paying for. I enjoy looking at the stars in the early evening and taking a deep breath, too, how about you? So who's going to set up a Gofundme for me as a thank you?

Click here for page 4, if you are not busy and wasting time on the internet anyway

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